The official said the US has "a range of options available" and would "act very deliberately so that we're making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria". On his way to Malaysia, defense secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters that he spent a good amount of time on a video teleconference with the president's senior national security advisers. "I'll continue to be closely connected and involved with the president's national security advisers on this issue," he said. The defence department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies, Hagel said. "That requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets to be able to carry out different options, whatever options the president might choose," he said. Syrian rebels have accused the regime of president Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons near Damascus on Wednesday.
The attack allegedly left more than 1,300 people dead, the rebels said. However, the Syrian regime denied the claim and blamed the insurgents for carrying out attacks with chemical weapons. "An army unit is surrounding a sector of Jobar where terrorists used chemical weapons," said the Syrian state broadcaster, adding soldiers who tried to enter the area had "suffocated".